Three new car models in 2000 and four new concept cars since then. Volvo Cars is climbing swiftly to the top as one of the car world’s most prolific newsmakers. “Concept cars are an excellent means of providing a glimpse of the future without binding ourselves to an exact design. They help us make wise decisions in our ongoing development work,” says Peter Horbury, Chief Designer at Volvo Cars. <BR> <BR>Volvo Performance Concept Car II is the fourth concept model from Volvo Cars since the Paris motor show in autumn 2000. “We have made and sold high-performance variants since the very first yellow 850 R model was launched in Geneva in 1994. All these cars had one thing in common: their sporting pedigree was relatively discreet. When designing the PCC models, we decided to give a somewhat freer rein to our wilder impulses. The new cars are far closer to the racing track’s special – and more extrovert – design language. One glance is sufficient to see that these are cars with extraordinary muscle,” enthuses Peter Horbury.<P><BR>Design and technology under an attractive skin <BR>Safety can be both attractive and compact <BR>The Volvo Safety Concept Car, which was unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2001, is a perfect example of this approach. “We doubtless shocked more than a few experts who took it for granted that a safety car from Volvo would naturally be a large family model. With the Volvo SCC, we are showing that we can also package safety in an attractive – I’m almost tempted to say sexy – exciting and compact format,” continues Peter Horbury. “For me personally, it was at least equally exciting to hear the resounding “yes” when people were asked whether they recalled the inspiration for the highly distinctive rear section, which draws on the lines of the 1800 ES model of the early 1970s. Even people who were not born when that car was launched in 1971 recognised the family resemblance. That was most gratifying, and more than a little surprising, I must admit,” he adds. The Volvo Safety Concept Car also represents a new way of looking at the balance between designers and engineers at Volvo Cars. Several of the technical breakthroughs in the concept car actually originated from the design department. “Previously, it was usually the designer’s job to wrap the engineer’s ideas into an attractive package. Today, however, the process may equally often be exactly the reverse. The designer hatches an idea and the engineer has the task of making it technically feasible. It’s a form of interaction and cooperation that is more fruitful and more fun for all concerned – and it is more successful and profitable for the company too,” emphasises Peter Horbury.<P><BR>An appetiser <BR>The fourth concept car, the Volvo Adventure Concept Car, also unveiled in Detroit in 2001, serves as an appetiser in advance of the introduction of the Volvo Cars challenger in the SUV segment next year. “We have two intentions with the concept car. For one thing, we want to confirm that people actually want this car. And for another, the aim is to generate advance interest in buying the car upon its release, to get customers so keen on what they see that they would rather wait for our new model than buy a different make of SUV today,” explains Peter Horbury, and concludes: “There is a third benefit too, and that is that we are providing a clear and honest picture of how we feel this type of car will function. The Volvo ACC is an extremely comfortable Cross Country model where the prime intention is not to plough off-road and head across the terrain in search of the horizon. Instead, this is a car that is ideal for long trips coast to coast. It’s so comfortable and well-equipped that perhaps the best way of describing it is that it’s like flying first-class – just one metre above the road surface ...